Daily Archives: April 14, 2008

Cornell robot sets a record for distance walking


We’re not sure what brand of batteries it was using, but the Cornell Ranger robot just kept going and going April 3 when it set an unofficial world record by walking nonstop for 45 laps — a little over 9 kilometers or 5.6 miles — around the Barton Hall running track.Developed by a team of students working with Andy Ruina, Cornell professor of theoretical and applied mechanics, the robot walked (and walked) until it finally stopped and fell backward, perhaps because its battery ran down. “We need to do some careful analysis to find out for sure,” said Greg Stiesberg, a graduate student on the team.An earlier version of the same robot had already set a record by free-walking a bit over 1 kilometer, about .62 miles. (Another robot has walked 2.5 kilometers [1.55 miles] on a treadmill, Ruina noted. A six-legged robot has walked a bit more than 2 kilometers, and there’s some debate over whether or not that counts.)…Read the rest here.

Shock Arm Band: Wave of the Future

I don’t think this is too new, but I certainly missed it.For the busy viewer, watch the first 15 seconds or so to get the idea, then skip ahead to 3 minutes 1 second to get to the meat of it.(Hat tip: Frischer Wind)It seems to me that all you need, with these devices, is a kind of “smoke detector” that detects anything wrong … terrorists, disgruntlement among the passengers, running out of the preferred dinner option … whatever. On activation, the “smoke detector” (let’s call it a “Potential National Security Situation Detection Device”) .. simply activates all of the EMD technology. Everybody goes down at once.But really, the easiest way to do this is going to be to plant a chip in everyone’s head.

Is this important new research, or is it”flu denialism”?

i-2dce6251622fb67ec007bb76dc54a7bf-pandemic_typist.jpgThis is a press release pertaining to an article coming out next month in the American Journal of Public Health:

The widespread assumption that pandemic influenza is an exceptionally deadly form of seasonal, or nonpandemic, flu is hard to support, according to a new study in the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health.The study challenges common beliefs about the flu–in particular the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claim that “the hallmark of pandemic influenza is excess mortality.”

Continue reading Is this important new research, or is it”flu denialism”?

New in Paperback Book on Permian Mass Extinction

i-10092cedc7be5d8a5cb3f10bec59f6b5-lifedied.jpgWhen Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time is a book by Michael Benton on the Permian Extinction now out in paperback. From the press release:

Today it is common knowledge that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteorite impact sixty-five million years ago, which killed half of all species then living.Far less well-known is a much bigger catastrophe – the greatest mass extinction of all time – which occurred 251 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period. In this cataclysm, at least ninety per cent of life was destroyed, both on land, including sabre-toothed reptiles and their rhinoceros-sized prey, and in the sea.After the event the Earth was a cold, airless place, with only one or two species eking out a poor existence. What caused destruction on such an unimaginable scale, and how did life recover?Michael Benton’s book about this catastrophe – When Life Nearly Died: the greatest mass extinction of all time – has been published in paperback this week. Michael Benton is Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Bristol.James Lovelock said of the book: “Michael Benton’s book brings back to Earth Science a sense of adventure … it is both a wonderfully good read and a valued reference”.When Life Nearly Died documents not only what happened 251 million years ago, but also the recent rekindling of the idea of catastrophism, after it was seemingly extinguished in a great battle of ideas in the early nineteenth century. Scientists have at last come to accept that the world has been subject to huge cataclysms in the past. For the end-Permian event the killing models are controversial – was the agent the impact of a huge meteorite or comet over ten kilometres in diameter, or prolonged volcanic eruption in Siberia? The evidence has been accumulating through the 1990s and into the new millennium, and Michael Benton gives his verdict at the very end of this book.